Sen. Bernie Sanders sounded the alarm this week that if Democrats don’t make ‘a major course correction’ they’ll be doomed in the November midterms.
In an interview with the Guardian, the Vermont senator called on President Joe Biden to push Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to hold votes on bills that would help working families including implementing a $15 minimum wage, an extension of the child tax credit and lowering prescription drug prices.
‘It is no great secret that the Republican Party is winning more and more suport from working people,’ Sanders told the Guardian. ‘It’s not because the Republican Party has anything to say to them. It’s because in too many ways the Democratic Party has turned its back on the working class.’
In a tweet Wednesday aimed at his fellow Democrats, Sanders echoed the sentiment.
‘The Democratic Party has a fundamental question to ask itself. Are you prepared to stand with struggling working families all over this country? Do you have the guts to take on the moneyed interests whose greed has caused such enormous pain for so many?’ he asked. ‘Which side are you on?’
Sen. Bernie Sanders sounded the alarm this week that if Democrats don’t make ‘a major course correction’ they’ll be doomed in the November midterms
Sanders argued in an interview with the Guardian that Democrats aren’t doing enough to show they’re the party supporting ‘struggling working families’
Sanders – who lost the Democratic nomination to Biden in 2020 – is likely the most influential progressive in the upper chamber, and a year into Biden’t tenure has been more cooperative than moderate Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema.
But that might not last into Biden’s year No. 2.
‘I think it’s absolutely important that we do a major course correction,’ Sanders said. ‘It’s important that we have the guts to take on the very powerful corporate interests that have an unbelievably powerful hold on the economy of this country.’
He said that by forcing senators to vote on progressive legislation, even if the bills are doomed to fail – and they will if the 60-vote filibuster remains in place – Democrats can prove they’re on the side of working people.
‘People can understand that you sometimes don’t have the votes,’ Sanders said. ‘But they can’t understand why we haven’t brought up important legislation that 70 per cent or 80 per cent of the American people support.’
Sanders also suggested a la carte voting could resurrect Biden’s Build Back Better plan.
‘We have tried a strategy over the last several months, which has been mostly backdoor negotiations with a handful of senators,’ Sanders said. ‘It hasn’t succeeded on Build Back Better or on voting rights. It has demoralized millions of Americans.’
Instead he suggested holding votes on components of the bill, which includes climate change provisions, healthcare provisions, a permanent extension of the child tax credit and ways to make child care cheaper for American families.
‘We have to bring these things to the floor,’ Sanders argued. ‘The vast majority of people in the [Democratic] caucus are willing to fight for good policy.’
‘If I were Senator Sinema and a vote came up to lower the outrageously high cost of prescription drugs, I’d think twice if I want to get re-elected in Arizona to vote against that,’ Sanders continued. ‘If I were Mr Manchin and I know that tens of thousands of struggling families in West Virginia benefited from the expansion of the child tax credit, I’d think long and hard before I voted against it.’
He also said the Senate should vote individually on enhancing Medicare benefits, including for hearing, vision and dental, some of which were stripped out during Build Back Better negotiations.
‘All these issues, they are just not Bernie Sanders standing up and saying this would be a great thing,’ Sanders said. ‘They are issuess that are enormously popular, and on every one of them, the Republicans are in opposition. But a lot of people don’t know that because Republicans haven’t been forced to vote on them.’
During both his 2016 and 2020 races for the White House, Sanders made waves when he talked about the widening income gap between the billionaire class and working people.
‘The truth of the matter is people are going to work, and half of them are living paycheck to paycheck,’ the Vermont senator said. ‘People are struggling with healthcare, with prescription drugs. Young people can’t afford childcare. Older workers are worried to death about retirement.’
‘They want the wealthy to start paying their fair share of taxes,’ he went on. ‘They think it’s absurd that Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk don’t pay a nickel in federal taxes.’
Sanders praised Biden backing an enhanced child tax credit, however it expired last month due to the Senate being unable to pass the president’s Build Back Better social spending bill.
The Vermont independent told the Guardian he believed that to ‘show working people that you are willing to step up and take on the greed of the ruling class in America right now’ Biden needed to go after prescription drug companies.
‘There is no issue that people care more about than that we pay the highest prices for prescription drugs in the world,’ Sanders argued, adding that pharmaceutical companies have 1,500 lobbyists in Washington who ‘tried everything to make sure we don’t lower the cost of pharmaceuticals.’
‘I think the Democrats are going to have to clear the air and say to the drug companies – and say it loudly – we’re talking about the needs of the working class – and use the expression “working class.” The Democrats have to make clear that they’re on the side of the working class and ready to take on the wealthy and powerful. That is not only the right thing to do, but I think it will be the politically right thing to do,’ Sanders urged.